Zimbabwe Bond Notes: Is it money, cheque, an export incentive or otherwise? How discord prevailed in advertising

Lovemore Lubinda

BOND NOTES: There was confusion in the market on Monday 28 November 2016, as business people found themselves on the knife edge on whether to accept or deny the currency whose security features they had not known, this pointed out to what extent advertising of the recently introduced currency was marred by inconsistencies.

The discord was not a result of the incorrect spellings of the words separate and remittances on a billboard that made headlines in the social media circles, but the whole process from the day the government announced its intention to introduce the bond notes all the way up to the eventual injection of it into the economy.

One of the adverts issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, if not the only one on bond notes was; “Bond notes are an export incentive which rewards you for generating foreign currency through exporting goods and services. The incentive pays you up to 5 percent on the foreign currency you generated. The bonus is paid in bond notes which has the same value as US dollars (1:1) and are deposited into and withdrawn from your existing US dollar bank account.” While most people quizzed the RBZ’s intention of hiding the surrogate currency’s security features, all the way into introduction possibly to curb the generation of counterfeits by the crooks, the actual introduction raised some questions in some sections of the trading publics.

The advert clearly spells the bond notes as being export incentive, meaning some people expected the notes to have been injected into the exporters’ receipts.

ZimNews.net spoke to traders in the streets of Harare to get their understanding to the notes, as to why they were introduced, and their comments over the initial hesitant to accept the notes by some businesses. One trader only identified as George, who is stationed at Charge Office flea markets blames RBZ’s indicating left, and turning right stance employed by the central bank.

“I don’t understand this, bond notes were said to be incentives to exporters, of which I am not, but my bank vehemently insists on issuing me with the notes. I event threatened them that I will report the bank to RBZ which gave the notice that bond notes were for exporters, but the staff remained unmoved until I accepted the notes, but under protest,” he says.

George says he was surprised to hear the RBZ governor John Mangudya singing a different tune by saying bond notes were a supplement to the multicurrency system, leaving many wandering as to which is which, and why was that never mentioned in the adverts prior to the introduction only to come out now.

Hints of conflicting statements on their purported purpose of being export incentives were there though says George as the main aim of introducing them was never publicly declared. No one among the authorities was sure or brave enough to openly say if the notes where money, cheques, or otherwise.

The same was raised by former Finance Minister in the Government of National Unity, and now People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti who says; “So it is no longer export incentive.”

The long walk to the bond notes introduction was characterised by fierce resistance and challenges, various groups tried to stop the government through the central bank from bringing them on board. The monetary authorities stuck to their guns saying it was going ahead, and urging people to welcome them as a way to solve the cash crisis under the banner ‘export incentive.’ Which is which now? People are asking! Only time will tell.

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